LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 25, 2021)— The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a joint temporary final rule that was published today in the Federal Register and offers 22,000 additional H-2B visas to employers for the second half of the federal fiscal year that ends on September 30, 2021. These visas are used by employers, such as racehorse trainers, who seek seasonal guest workers. They are capped at 66,000 annually, with an even split of 33,000 available for each half of the federal government’s fiscal year. Six thousand of these supplemental visas will be reserved for nationals of the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
“The 22,000 H-2B visas offered through this rule issued by the DHS and DOL will be helpful to employers who rely on the H-2B visa program, including trainers, but many more of these visas are ultimately required to satisfy the need,” said NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop. “For that reason, the NTRA, through its involvement in the H-2B Workforce Coalition, supports additional relief from the burdensome annual H-2B visa cap through a permanent returning worker exemption.”
This past December, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 became law and included a provision that provides the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with the discretionary authority to release an additional 64,176 H-2B visas when significant need is demonstrated. The NTRA supports all efforts to make additional visas available to seasonal businesses struggling with labor issues.
The H-2B visa guest worker program is a nonimmigrant visa program used by many industries that need temporary non-agricultural help when domestic workers are unavailable. For the horse racing industry, trainers rely heavily on the H-2B program to fill various backside positions.
Demand for H-2B visas often exceeds their availability and the cap level is quickly reached, leaving employers in need. For the second half of federal fiscal year 2021, DHS announced that by February 12 it had received enough H-2B worker petitions to reach the congressionally mandated cap of 33,000 visas allotted.